Sometimes life is hard. This morning, the company I work at is announcing layoffs due to Coronavirus. These are hard things. It’s upsetting and difficult to communicate with someone who’s worked hard and done good work and to then have to tell them that they are being let go because of an external event that no one can control.
I’ve lost sleep and then stressed out about communicating the message to my team all week. This morning, as I reflected and meditated on the hard conversations to come, I realized that this is not about me or my fragile ego. This is about those people being let go, into an uncertain world where it may be difficult or impossible to find work.
I’m trying desperately to lean on my Stoic training and my meditation practice to both remain calm and think about the present moment. Then it hit me. I suddenly realized that it could just have easily been me that was let go. The lesson (again, for those in the back), is that we cannot control what we cannot control. It is our response to those things we cannot control that matters.
I’ve chosen to be empathetic and to continue to focus on dissolving my own ego. It’s not about me. And even if it was about me, I’d still have to find a way to move on.
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…”— Epictetus, Discourses, 2.5.4–5